Jason Clark, public information officer for the TDCJ in Huntsville, said the state prison agency is assessing a mandate from the Texas Legislature which requires that inmates be released from centers in each of the agency’s six regions across the state.
Clark said those centers have not yet be selected.
TDCJ’s Region IV headquarters is located at the Chase Field Criminal Justice Center southeast of Beeville. As a regional headquarters, Chase Field could be a likely site for such releases when the locations are chosen
Sixteen units are located in Region IV, including three units in Bee County.
The TDCJ was directed to establish regional release centers with the passage of House Bill 2289. That bill became effective on Sept. 1, 2009.
Currently, all TDCJ inmates are released in Huntsville. But rising fuel prices have made it expensive to transfer all prisoners scheduled for release to that location. Inmates scheduled for release now must come from units as far west as El Paso, as far north at Dalhart and as far south as Edinburg.
According to the bill, “The department shall establish a procedure through which an inmate being discharged from the department or being released on parole or to mandatory supervision is discharged or released as applicable from: 1. the facility in which the inmate is serving the inmate’s sentence; or 2. the facility designated as a regional release facility under Subsection (b) that is nearest to the facility in which the inmate is serving the inmate’s sentence.”
The bill requires the TDCJ to designate six or more facilities for that purpose.
Prison system officials reportedly are working on making those selections. The bill requires that the TDCJ implement the regional release procedure “as soon as possible after Sept. 1, 2009, and in no event later than Sept. 1, 2010.”
When Bee County was selected as the site for the William G. McConnell maximum security unit and later, when the agency made the decision to locate the Raul R. “Rudy” Garza East and West Units, a trusty camp, the Edmundo Mireles Training Center and the Region IV headquarters at Chase Field, state officials promised that no inmates would be released in Bee County.
Clark outlined the procedure for releasing prisoners in Huntsville. The procedure actually encourages those who are going to be on parole or under mandatory supervision to get back to their homes and report to their parole officers.
Currently, once inmates arrive in Huntsville, they are given a bus ticket home, $50 cash and some clothes.
They get another $50 when they report to their parole officers.
Those who have served their entire sentences and are being discharged are given a bus ticket and $100 before being released.